When a patient who has an addiction is also diagnosed with a mental illness, it's known as a dual diagnosis. Both the mental illness(es) and addiction(s) require their own treatment, but dual diagnosis treatments should be integrated for the best possible outcome.
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Dual diagnosis, also known as a co-occurring disorder, is more common than once thought. A third of people who are addicted to alcohol and half of those with a drug addiction also have a mental illness. Similarly, a third of people who have any kind of mental illness and half of those with a serious mental condition also have a substance addiction.
The high incidence of co-occurring disorders is due to the fact that many people with mental illnesses use drugs and alcohol to self-medicate. But drugs and alcohol almost always worsen a mental illness and can even cause one to appear where none existed before.
While anxiety and depression are the two most common mental illnesses cited in dual diagnoses, any mental illness may co-occur with an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and eating disorders are also common illnesses that accompany an addiction.
The best type of program for treating co-occurring disorders is one that's offered through a reputable treatment center with programs that specialize in treating both the addiction and the mental illness.
Dual diagnosis treatment programs are meaningful collaborations among treatment teams for each illness and focus on integrating treatments to help patients better understand the relationship between the mental illness and the addiction.
Treatment begins with medical detoxification, during which the physical substance addiction is broken with the help of medications that alleviate withdrawal symptoms.
The highly complex psychological issues behind the addiction, including those caused by the mental illness, are addressed through various treatment therapies, including pharmacotherapy, behavioral management, and psychotherapy, which help patients become self-aware of their thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors. Patients learn ways of replacing harmful thoughts and behaviors with healthier, more productive ones.
The relapse prevention program is the last phase of rehab. This highly individualized plan is set in place after treatment is complete to help patients address the cravings, stress, and triggers that can lead to a lapse in sobriety, which in turn can cause a relapse of the addiction.
The typical aftercare plan will include ongoing group, family, and individual therapy to continue increasing self-awareness and developing skills for coping with "real" life. Participation in a community support group like Alcoholics Anonymous or Smart Recovery is another common component of the aftercare plan, and ongoing monitoring of the mental illness and the medications used to treat it will be an integral part of the program.
Learn more about the newest dual diagnosis treatment options when you call Drug Treatment Centers Pittsburgh at (412) 235-2317.